With its 9-3 victory over Maryland today, Loyola joined a pretty exclusive club: The 'Hounds can now count itself as one of only nine schools that have hoisted the NCAA Division I championship trophy. I don't know whether Loyola's victory is confirmation that parity has finally come to the nation's top division of college lacrosse, but it's proof that old money can't simply rely on its connections to dance with the lady in bronze and walnut on a yearly basis.
It was a complete effort from the Greyhounds today, riding a voracious defense and getting timely offense out of a unit that showed its depth and ability all afternoon. Eric Lusby, the attack that has been Loyola's lumberjack throughout Championship play, finished the day with four points (all on goals), finding time to break the all-time NCAA Tournament record for goals scored (17). He is a human missile and should expect a call from the military to determine whether he can be appropriately weaponized.
Going into the game, it felt as if major factors in the game were going to be how well each team shared the bean and limited their opponent from involving the entirety of the offense, as well as whether each team would be able to generate and limit turnovers. As things played out in Foxborough, Massachusetts, that came into clearer focus. The Greyhounds absolutely decimated the Maryland defense on the day, running past Terrapin defenders with ease and exploiting a mishmash slow and non-existent slides from Kevin Warne's unit. At the other end of the field, the 'Hounds suffocated the Terps' offense to the extent that Maryland went scoreless over the final 40:40 of play. Joe Fletcher, Dylan Grimm, Reid Acton, Scott Ratliff, and Josh Hawkins crushed the souls of Joe Cummings and Company, Ltd. all afternoon and completely shut down one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country.
While Loyola absolutely earned the victory at Gillette Stadium, Maryland did itself no favors on the day. The Terps committed 13 turnovers, eight of which were credited to the Greyhounds as caused events, losing offensive opportunities left and right. On the day, Maryland actually owned the overall possession margin, earning three more offensive possession than the 'Hounds. When combined with an abysmal shooting performance -- the Terps only shot 10.34 percent, due in heavy degree to how well Loyola locked off the Terps' biggest human deathrays -- Maryland just couldn't help itself out in generating any momentum. In short, every factor of importance went against the Terrapins on the day -- some voluntarily and others caused by Loyola -- and the result bears that out.
Congratulations to Charley Toomey and his charges. A job well done and a more than deserving champion.
Pace: 45 total possessions.
Possession Margin: +3 (Maryland)
Unadjusted Loyola Defensive Efficiency: 12.50
Maryland Shooting Percentage: 10.34%
Turnovers per Offensive Possesion: Maryland -- 54.17%; Loyola -- 42.86%
Unadjusted Maryland Defensive Efficiency: 42.86
Face-Offs: Maryland -- 12; Loyola -- 3